July 6, 2015 / 5:43 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Greece has three to four months of medicine supplies, industry says

(Updates drug stocks situation, adds comment from companies)

By Ben Hirschler

LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) - Greece has enough medicine to last three to four months and drugmakers said on Monday that they would continue supplying the country for now, despite increased financial uncertainty after Greeks rejected austerity terms of a bailout.

The pharmaceuticals industry is owed more than 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) by Greek hospitals and the state-run health insurer for unpaid bills since December but has promised to keep supply lines open on humanitarian grounds.

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (Efpia), representing 40 drug companies, said it stood by a commitment made last week to ensure supplies continued for the coming weeks.

Imports of life-saving medicines -- along with fuel -- top the list of products at risk as Greece struggles with bank closures and the threat of an exit from the euro zone. Nearly all Greek medicine is imported.

"We have supplies for three to four months in the country and we remain committed to supply Greek patients," Efpia Director-General Richard Bergstrom said after an assessment of the latest situation.

Efpia warned last week, however, that shortages could still emerge, given the fragmented nature of the Greek supply chain, adding that this could be exacerbated if drugs were re-exported.

Pfizer said that current recorded stock levels in Greece should ensure that patients do not suffer any interruption in supply to its medicines in the short term.

Sanofi, Bayer, Merck and Boehringer Ingelheim said they were continuing to supply Greek patients. A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said it was preparing contingency plans but operations remain normal for now.

"At present, there is no impact on our supply chain as, while the banks are closed, bank transfers to and within Greece are still possible," she said.

Roche also said that both its medicines and diagnostics were available to patients.

"Roche is working to understand the full implications of yesterday's referendum decision and will both review and take steps to revise its operating plans as needed," the company said.

Additional reporting by Paul Arnold, Andreas Kroener and Patricia Weiss; Editing by Susan Fenton and David Goodman

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